By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday vowed to give all support to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as it takes the lead in the on-going investigation on the killing of Christine Silawan, a 16-year-old church offering collector, in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
Senior Superintendent Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said the case has already been considered “solved” after the NBI arrested a 17-year-old boy whom authorities consider as the prime suspect in the killing. The suspect, according to the NBI, is the ex-boyfriend of the victim.
However, Banac added that the case is not yet “closed” since investigators are still hunting for two more suspects.
“Ipinapahayag ng PNP ang pagsuporta nito sa NBI sa patuloy na isinasagawang imbestigasyon sa pagkakapaslang ng teenager sa Lapu-Lapu City (The PNP pledges support to the NBI in the on-going investigation on the killing of a teenager in Lapu-Lapu City),” Banac told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“Sila na po ang naging lead agency dito sa investigation so ang magagawa na lamang ng PNP ay patuloy na mangalap ng impormasyon at ibabahagi nito ang mga kuhang impormasyon doon sa joint investigation body (The [NBI] has already become the lead agency in the investigation so what the PNP can do now is to continuously gather information and share them to the joint investigation body),” he stated.
According to Banac, the NBI-Region 7 has already been integrated in the Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-7)’s Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) “Christine” to enable the easier exchange of information between the two parties.
“Ang ugnayan ng PRO-7 at NBI-7 ay bilang magkabahagi o partner, joint investigation body, nang sa gayon ay lalo pa nating mapabilis ang kalutasan ng kaso. Dahil ang NBI ang nakasakote sa suspek ay minabuti ng ating PRO-7 na ibahagi na lang rin ang lahat ng mga dokumento o impormasyon doon sa investigating team ng NBI (The PRO-7 and NBI-7 became partners as a joint investigation body to expedite the resolution of the case. Since the NBI arrested the suspect, the PRO-7 chose to share all the documents or information to their investigating team),” he explained.
As earlier reported, Banac said the suspect had killed the victim out of jealousy.
“Base doon sa naipahayag na ng NBI, nagkaroon sila ng impormasyon na ito ay crime of passion dahil sa relasyon ng suspek doon sa biktima. Matinding bugso ng galit o damdamin so selos (Based on the statement of the NBI, they had an information that it was a crime of passion because of the relationship of the suspect to the victim. Extreme surge of emotions so it was jealousy),” he said.
Accordingly, the suspect was supposed to see the victim on the evening of March 10 after they broke up on February 28. However, investigators said the suspect saw Silawan with another male friend eating “balut” so it was possible that he got jealous.
There was also a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage where the Silawan and suspect were seen seemingly arguing while walking on the road near where the victim’s body was found in Barangay Bankal.
Banac bared that the joint investigation body is now following leads on the identities of the two more suspects to arrest them immediately.
“Hindi pa naman matukoy kung sila ay kasing edad o menor de edad rin kaya patuloy ang isinasagawang imbestigasyon ng investigation body. Kami ay hindi muna maglalahad ng detalye para makafocus sila sa pagtugis sa mga suspek (They cannot determine yet if they are of the same age of minors so the investigation is still being conducted. We will not issue any details yet so that they can focus on hunting the suspects),” he said.
What happens to Bueno?
Banac also revealed that Jonas Martel Bueno, the man earlier tagged by the Davao City Police as the prime suspect, has already been cleared of his involvement in the case.
“Doon naman sa paglutang ng pangalan at larawan ni Jonas Bueno, wala naman talagang inilabas na impormasyon ang SITG at nagulat na lamang tayo na may mga lumabas na pangalan at larawan sa pahayagan. Ngayon ang nangyari ay parang ‘yon na ang nasundan ng publiko. Subalit hindi po opisyal na pinangalanan ito ng SITG ng Region 7 (As to the release of the name and picture of Jonas Bueno, the SITG did not release any information so we are shocked that there were information that went out in newspapers. What happened was that it was followed by the public. But the SITG did not officially released his name),” Banac said.
Bueno was arrested on Friday, March 15, in Davao City by virtue of an arrest warrant for the murder of Trinidad Batucan, a farmer who was found dead in Danao City, Cebu on January 13, 2019.
Immediately after Bueno’s arrest, the Davao Police Regional Office (PRO-11) directly linked him to Silawan’s killing, citing the similarity on the way the two victims were killed: the skin on some parts of their bodies was peeled.
However, the Davao police later retracted its statement after the arrest of Silawan’s ex-boyfriend.
Banac said Bueno will be turned over to Danao City, Cebu in the coming days where his case for the farmer’s murder will be heard.